Getting pimples can be frustrating. Many people hope to outgrow it in their teen years, only to find it continue on to adulthood. Unfortunately, acne can form on any part of the body, but the back can be particularly frustrating. It is often hard to reach the area of concern. Your clothing can rub against it causing it to be irritated, and instead of healing it often feels like it is getting worse instead of getting better.
What Causes Back Acne
- There can be a number of different things that cause acne to form on a person’s back. One of the most common factors is person genetics. Unfortunately, this is something a person has no control over. If you come from a family that is known for dealing with acne, you might be more prone to outbreaks.
- A second cause may be changed in a person’s hormones. This is one reason why many teenagers have issues with acne as they go through puberty. Many women also find they will struggle with acne during certain times of their monthly cycle as their hormones change, or when they are pregnant or breastfeeding as their hormones change significantly.
- The third cause of acne could be side effects of a medication a person is taking. For instance, some antidepressants can cause your skin to be more prone to acne outbreaks.
- The fourth cause of acne may be periods of stress. While periods of stress will not directly cause you to have an outbreak, it can help to increase the likelihood of one occurring.
- A fifth cause may be excessive sweat. Sweat itself can help to clear out our pores, but when it is trapped against your body for periods of time, it can cause pores to become clogged and create pimples.
- Lastly, a person’s diet may contribute to outbreaks. Surprisingly, the things that people suspect, like pizza or other greasy foods, do not increase the likelihood, but some carbohydrates and dairy products to increase their occurrence.
How do Pimples Form
A person’s body naturally produces oils, which are necessary for skin to stay healthy. This oil is called sebum. When there is an excess production of this oil, it can mix with dead skin cells and get trapped in your skin’s pores, creating a blockage. When this blockage occurs, bacteria forms creating a blemish or a pimple. This same build-up of sebum and skin cells cause blackheads and whitehead pimples to form. The difference is how the body reacts to it. When the pore becomes inflamed and begins to swell outward, it forms what is often called a whitehead pimple, because of the white center that often forms on it. If there is enough air that gets to the clogged pore, instead of the area swelling it can dry the bacteria and oil that is trapped, forming a blackhead. This type of a pimple is called a blackhead because it usually has a darker colored center to the blemish. Some people have one type of blemish more so than another, or they may have a combination of both whiteheads and blackheads. No matter which type of a blemish it may be, the spots are all acne related.
Treating and Preventing Sweat Related Acne
Since sweat and debris from skin cells and sebum are what often causes an outbreak of pimples, it is important to practice some specific hygiene tasks to ensure the issues is not only treated but also future outbreaks are prevented in the future. Whenever you have a workout or spend a significant amount of time sweating, it is important to take a shower as quickly as possible afterward. Showering will help to wash the dirt and oil off of the skin so it does not have a chance to be trapped in your skin’s pores. Also, make sure to wash your sweating clothing between uses so that there is not excess sweat or debris left on the clothing. When you shower, consider using an exfoliating body scrub. If you have severe acne, there are acne cleansers which contain salicylic acid in them to help reduce the number of pores that get clogged. Lastly, when working out, consider wearing loose-fitting clothing which allows your skin to breath easily instead of tighter fitting aerobic type clothing. This will help to keep sweat and debris from being trapped against the skin or in the clothing.
Choose Skin Care and Health and Beauty Care Items Carefully
When you are prone to acne, it is important to make sure any products you use on your skin will not help to contribute to further outbreaks. Whenever possible, choose a product that is oil-free and will not clog pores. One thing people forget to check is sunscreen. This is important to help protect your skin but is often loaded with oils which will further irritate your back acne and cause it to get worse instead of better. Look for a product that does not contain oil but still provides adequate SPF coverage to keep your skin from being harmed by the sun. Also look at any moisturizers, soap, lotions, shampoo, conditioner or body washes you might be using. If they contain oils they might actually be contributing to your back acne. Even if you do not use the product on your back, if you use it on your hair and then as you rinse it off, it flows over your back, it can affect the skin on your back unintentionally. The same goes for if you have long hair and wear it down your back. If the oil naturally in your hair or in your hair products gets on your back, it can further encourage acne to form. Lastly, using products with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide can help to reduce acne, just make sure to keep an eye on your skin and only use on affected areas, as it can be overly drying to the skin and cause other problems.
Take a Look at Your Eating Habits
As previously mentioned, certain foods can help to increase flare-ups from acne, including back acne. So take a look at what your diet consists of on a regular basis. If you are eating a lot of foods that cause your blood sugar to rise, like carbohydrates, you might be contributing to the problem with your diet. For instance, try to avoid white bread, white potatoes, and sugary foods. Instead, opt for lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins like fish and chicken. This does not mean by eating an occasional sugary food, you will break out in acne on your back, but eating it regularly can cause your skin to become more inflamed with blemishes. Also, make sure to drink plenty of water every day. The water will help your body to rid itself of toxins, including the bacteria that are collecting in your pores. It will also help to make sure your skin stays hydrated, which is important when you use some acne products and medications, which can sometimes dry your skin.
When to See Your Doctor
If you have tried to do the things mentioned above, and you find your acne continues to cause you problems, there are prescription medications and creams a doctor can give you which can help. A doctor can also help to determine if the medication you are taking is contributing to your outbreaks, like an antidepressant, hormone treatment, or some contraceptives. If so they can see if you are a candidate for a different medication which will not cause the acne to be as severe. If your doctor determines you are an ideal candidate for acne prescription medication, they might prescribe you an oral antibiotic to take daily for an extended period of time. This antibiotic helps to rid your body of the acne-causing bacteria and reduce the number of outbreaks. They might also consider prescribing a topical antibiotic cream to work directly on the affected area, or a topical steroid to help reduce the inflammation. Medicated cleansers and ointments to help dry up the area may also be an option for treatment.
Seeing a Dermatologist
Sometimes people have such severe acne, that the regular treatments do not work. If this is the case, your primary care physician may need to refer you to a dermatologist. Dermatologists are specialist doctors who address skin conditions specifically. They can evaluate your skin and the type of acne you have to determine if there is a better option to treat your acne. It might be that your skin needs to have a particular combination of treatment to find relief, or it might need other treatment options which are monitored by a dermatologist and not a general physician. This might include injections or laser treatment to name a few. These options are usually reserved for only people with severe acne who do not respond to other interventions, or who have significant scarring from their acne which is causing other problems with the appearance of their skin.